What Is Suboxone? | What Is Suboxone Used For?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on July 13, 2021

Suboxone is a medication containing buprenorphine and naloxone that’s used to treat opioid addictions. The medication treats drug addiction by easing the symptoms of those who are opioid-dependent and providing the framework for long-term recovery.

What Is Suboxone? - Using Suboxone In Addiction Recovery

Suboxone is the brand-name drug combination of buprenorphine and naloxone used in the treatment of opioid use disorders (OUDs).

The symptoms of opioid withdrawal can be very uncomfortable. Suboxone is used to treat the painful symptoms of withdrawal to ease this process.

The Role Of Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist that blocks opioid receptors. This medication is effective in reducing cravings and preventing opioid withdrawal symptoms.

This is the active ingredient in Suboxone.

Read more about using buprenorphine for opioid addiction treatment

The Role Of Naloxone

Naloxone blocks and reverses the harmful effects of opioids. It works by binding to the same receptors that opioids bind to, blocking opioids from releasing their effects.

Read more about buprenorphine and naloxone combinations

How Suboxone Works In Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Suboxone is used in combination with behavioral therapy and counseling to treat substance use disorders in medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

While Suboxone is an effective treatment option for withdrawal, it will only work when used in conjunction with treatment programs that focus on the emotional well-being of the patient.

How Long Does Suboxone Take To Kick In?

Suboxone starts to kick in within 30 to 60 minutes after the initial dose. It takes closer to three to four hours for the full effects to set in.

Read more about how long it takes for Suboxone to kick in

How Long Will Suboxone Work To Block Opioids?

This is a long-acting medication, so the effects of Suboxone usually last on average 48 to 72 hours.

Suboxone will block the effects of opioids for at least 24 hours. For some, Suboxone may block opioids for up to 60 hours.

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Side Effects Of Suboxone

Using Suboxone to treat opioid dependence can come with a number of side effects. Some side effects are more serious than others and should be closely monitored.

Suboxone can cause serious breathing problems, leading to dizziness and slow breathing. If either of these signs manifest, get emergency help right away.

Read more about the side effects of Suboxone


Suboxone is an opioid, and opioids are known for causing constipation.

Read more about constipation caused by Suboxone


The most common side effect of Suboxone is nausea and vomiting. This is often due to precipitated withdrawal, which happens when Suboxone is taken too early.

Effects On Teeth

Suboxone is acidic, so it can cause tooth decay. However, even with those who use Suboxone long-term, tooth decay is not very common.

Read more about the effects of Suboxone on the teeth

Effects On Weight

Some people report weight gain while using Suboxone. This is because opioids cause water retention, which can cause things like bloating.

Read more about the effects of Suboxone on weight

Effects On Pregnancy

Using Suboxone while pregnant can cause the fetus to develop an opioid dependence. When the baby is born, he or she may experience symptoms of withdrawal.

Read more about taking Suboxone while pregnant

Sexual Side Effects

Suboxone has been known to cause sexual side effects, such as decreased libido and erectile dysfunction.

Read more about the sexual side effects of Suboxone

Types Of Suboxone

There are two forms of Suboxone available: tablets and films. Both of these methods of administering Suboxone are effective in treating OUDs.

Suboxone Tablets

Suboxone tablets are the pill form of Suboxone containing buprenorphine and naloxone. The tablet form of Suboxone is administered as a single daily dose.

Suboxone Films/Strips

Suboxone films look like small rectangular strips. These films serve the same function as Suboxone tablets and contain the same ingredients.

Suboxone Tablets Vs. Strips: Which Is Right For You?

Choosing between strips and tablets comes down to comfort and preference, both of which are valid and important factors when withdrawing from opioids.

Benefits Of Suboxone Tablets

If you’re considering going with the tablet form of Suboxone, there are a few benefits.

Some of the benefits of choosing Suboxone tablets include:

  • lower cost than strips
  • less stigma associated with taking a pill
  • many people prefer the taste of Suboxone tablets

Benefits Of Suboxone Strips

Suboxone strips are the more common form of taking this medication.

Benefits of choosing the strips include:

  • strips are easier to hold under the tongue while it dissolves
  • they absorb better

Seek the medical advice of your doctor before choosing between tablets and strips.

Suboxone Drug Interactions

There are a few types of drugs that have the potential to generate serious problems if taken with Suboxone.

Some of these include:

  • benzodiazepines and other central nervous system (CNS) depressants
  • CYP3A4 inhibitors and inducers
  • antiretrovirals, which are used to treat HIV
  • serotonergic drugs, such as antidepressants
  • sleeping aids
  • pain medications
  • anxiety medications
  • tranquilizers

Patients using any of the above medications should take caution and speak to a medical professional about the medications when considering Suboxone treatment.

Does Suboxone Cause Withdrawal?

It is possible to withdraw from Suboxone if it’s used improperly, such as crushing or injecting it. This can cause unpleasant withdrawal due to the naloxone.

Precipitated Withdrawal

Most instances of withdrawing from Suboxone happen due to precipitated withdrawal. This happens when someone takes Suboxone before the body has fully detoxed from opioids.

Read more about precipitated withdrawal from Suboxone

How Long Does Precipitated Withdrawal Last?

Precipitated withdrawal happens rapidly and can last anywhere between a few hours and a full day.
Learn more about how long precipitated withdrawal caused by Suboxone will last.

Read more about how long Suboxone precipitated withdrawal symptoms last

Suboxone Dosing

The recommended target dosage of Suboxone tablets is 16 mg/4 mg buprenorphine/naloxone per day as a single daily dose. But this will depend on the individual patient.

Learn more about the typical dose of Suboxone

What To Do If You Miss Your Dose

If you miss a dose of Suboxone, just take the medicine when you remember.

If you remember close to the time of your next dose, go ahead and skip that dose and wait to take the next dose at your regular time.

Read more about what to do if you miss a dose of Suboxone

When Should I Start Taking Suboxone?

Suboxone should be taken when the signs of withdrawal are clear (such as sweating, a runny nose, or nausea). The further into withdrawal a person is, the more likely Suboxone is to work.

Read more about the best time to start taking Suboxone

Suboxone Route Of Administration

For either form, Suboxone should be taken once a day by dissolving the medication under the tongue. It should take five to 10 minutes for the medication to fully dissolve.

Suboxone should never be injected. Injecting Suboxone can result in life-threatening health risks and infections.

Injecting Suboxone can result in:

  • pain
  • cramps
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • anxiety
  • sleep problems
  • cravings

Read more about the proper way to take Suboxone

Administration Of Suboxone Tablets

Suboxone tablets are to be taken under the tongue and fully dissolved. Tablets should not be cut, chewed, crushed, or swallowed.

Administration Of Suboxone Strips

Suboxone films or strips are also meant to be placed under the tongue and fully dissolved. It’s best to wet the mouth by drinking water prior to placing the strip under the tongue.

Read more about how to use Suboxone strips

Cost Of Suboxone

Suboxone can be an expensive medication, but most health insurance providers cover Suboxone costs.

Read more about the cost of Suboxone with and without insurance

Cost Of Suboxone With Insurance

Many insurance providers, including Medicaid, cover the cost of Suboxone treatment. Most patients who need Suboxone will not need to cover the cost of the medication out of pocket.

Cost Of Suboxone Without Insurance

The cost of suboxone can range from $150 to $250 for a 30-day supply of tablets or strips.

Suboxone Detox

The detoxification process of Suboxone use comes at the end of a medication-assisted treatment program, or at the end of a person using the medication at home.

Suboxone detox can have some uncomfortable symptoms, including:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • drug cravings
  • headaches
  • muscle aches
  • sweating
  • hot flashes
  • headache
  • fever
  • chills
  • loss of appetite
  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • irritability

Read more about detoxing from Suboxone

Suboxone FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Suboxone treatment.

❓ Can You Get High From Suboxone?

✔️ Suboxone is an opioid drug so it is possible to get high off of it. This high is not nearly as strong as a person would get from a full opioid agonist like heroin.

❓ Does Suboxone Come In A Generic Form?

✔️ There is an FDA-approved generic form of Suboxone. The generic form is a buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual film.

❓ Is Suboxone An Opiate Or An Opioid?

✔️ Suboxone is an opioid. Opiates are naturally derived substances, and opioids contain active ingredients that are chemically produced.

Read more about how Suboxone is classified

❓ Can You Drink Alcohol While On Suboxone?

✔️ You should not drink alcohol while using Suboxone. Mixing alcohol and any opioid, including Suboxone, can be extremely dangerous.

Both alcohol and Suboxone are CNS depressants and can result in death if combined.

❓ Is Suboxone Free?

✔️ Suboxone is not free. There are, however, some free Suboxone clinics and financial programs that allow for a certain number of free tablets and films to be distributed.

Read more about finding free Suboxone treatment

❓ How Do I Get A Suboxone Prescription?

✔️ Suboxone prescriptions can be obtained in a few ways:

  • an addiction treatment program, such as inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, or MAT
  • Suboxone treatment facilities
  • some specially trained psychiatrists
  • some specially trained primary care doctors

Read more about how to get a Suboxone prescription

❓ Can My Doctor Prescribe Suboxone?

✔️ Some primary health care providers can prescribe Suboxone, but not all can.

Your health provider must be specially trained and registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to prescribe Suboxone.

Read more about who can prescribe suboxone

Finding Treatment For Opioid Addiction

If you’d like to learn more about the use of Suboxone in treating opioid use disorders, call our helpline.

We have trained specialists who can connect you with a network of addiction treatment centers so you can get the help you need to overcome substance abuse.

If you or a family member are struggling with drug abuse, there’s a range of treatment plans available to you. Call us today to find out more.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on July 13, 2021

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